It's been a good week for pissing off the neighbours. Firstly it was a couple of ickle pussy cats in Camberwell, now it's the thought of thousands of James Blunt fans roaming endlessly across London's green and pleasant spaces, high on spritzers and Sainsburys' bacon crunchies.
Let's face it, London isn't Worthy Farm, probably looked a bit like it once, but isn't likely to do so again (unless TMFB has his way). So if you're a hard working concert promoter looking to fill an outdoor space with a few tens of thousands of people at thirty quid plus a pop, then you need a Park. We'll discount Wembley because a) it's crap, b) it's unlikely ever to be finished and c) it's usually full of sport. Same applies to Twickenham without the b). But parks filled with festive festival goers tend to be noisy, dirty, smelly affairs and tend to be scorned by those who live nearby. We're not sure why they object to scores of drunk people queuing up to piss in their gardens but there you go, perhaps the promoters shouldn't sell so much beer inside.
However, object they do, and objecting to The Royal Parks' application for a year round licence for entertainment is something they're doing right now. In the past RP have had to apply for each licence individually, allowing local residents to object one gig at a time, presumably over issues such as whether Coldplay should have been on before U2 not after. Their worry is that an exclusive licence will allow the parks to be filled with an endless supply of hooligans day in and day out, with the Friends of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill not holding back in their anger:
Royal Parks is destroying the character of Regent's Park, which is possibly the finest park in the country. The late night cinema is a ridiculous idea and the corporate events will lead to drunken city yobs wandering the streets at night.
Not so, say RP. Events of up to 79,999 people would be limited to 20 in Hyde Park, St James's Park would hold 12 9,999 capacity events and Kensington Gardens has space for 7 bashes with up to 14,999 people. Those three extra spaces to round up the numbers presumably being a case of one too many. The rest of the parks' event calendars would remain very much as they were before (commemoration concerts, scottish dancing displays and religious events being just three of the many we don't have time to look up). Both Ken and Coe support the move, just as well Prescott's not been informed else he'd probably want to build a shopping centre on each one, and events such as Live 8 and the O2 Festival help to raise over £5 million in additional revenue. Now that's a lot of seeds.
It may be that no one's going to get a choice in the matter since the licence application looks to be necessary under last year's entertainment licence legislation, and we can't imagine who's going to officially clamp down on the kind of revenue that a five day spending spree like O2 is going to bring. So a plea from us to you. If you are going to one of the big outdoor events this year, please think about the environment and the historic nature of the grounds you're standing in. Remember to queue for hours at the insufficient toilet facilities and throw all your litter in an overflowing bin, not on the remaining bare patch of earth beside it.
Still for all the menace that notorious heavy metal band Motorhead and rock trio Foo Fighters (it's easy to forget about Dave) will bring, the worst culprits are the well-to-do art crowd.
both Frieze Art Fairs held in Regent's Park over the last two years left it in a terrible state - the grass has still not recovered.